A new elementary school, an expanded bus garage and funding for long overdue maintenance on some of District 112’s oldest schools.
Those were the recommendations the Eastern Carver County School’s Facility Task Force gave for a $110.5 million bond referendum that could go before voters this November, according to the group’s report.
District leaders will host a “Community Listening Session,” to discuss growth and funding needs, 6:30-7:30 p.m. March 11 at Chaska High School, 545 Pioneer Trail.
In January, the Facility Task Force made its final recommendation to the Eastern Carver County School Board. The recommendation includes funding to build a new elementary school, costing approximately $35.5 million, a new expanded bus garage at about $13.5 million, and approximately $61.5 million to cover deferred maintenance for buildings.
The task force started the work in September 2018 and worked with engineering and architectural consultants to compile the district’s deferred maintenance list, according to Director of Finance & Operations DeeDee Kahring.
The school board will determine what will go on the referendum in June.
Here’s three things to know about the bond referendum:
1. Elementary school
The location of the district’s new elementary school has not been determined yet, Kahring said. Officials are considering two locations, one in Victoria north of Holy Family Catholic High School, and another on six acres in Chaska, located east of Highway 212 and north of Chaska Boulevard.
Much of the growth in the district is occurring in Carver and Victoria, Kahring said.
“Either one of those locations would help serve those communities,” she said. “Both are growing pretty fast.”
The district is anticipating 1,400 additional students in five years. Nearly two-thirds would be at the elementary level, according to a district’s newsletter.
The Facility Task Force considered adding onto three existing elementary schools and ultimately decided a new elementary school for 610 students would be cheaper and less disruptive than additions.
In early 2017, the city of Chaska purchased 34 acres for $2.5 million for a new elementary school and a new park. The school later purchased six acres of the property for $470,831, according to Kahring.
The city park, to be named Schimelpfenig Park, would be used by the school during the day and the city and sports associations in the evenings.
2. Maintenance and bus garage
The Facility Task Force compiled a list of deferred maintenance totaling $139 million, and recommended $61.5 million be part of the bond referendum.
The rest would be managed over 10 years using other funding sources with approval from the board, according to the school’s newsletter.
Much of the work would be for the district’s oldest schools which number over 50 years. They are Chaska Middle School East and West, La Academia, East Union Elementary and Chanhassen Elementary, according to Kahring.
“East and West have old inefficient undersized boilers and those we are replacing this summer,” she said, adding that there also needs to be air duct and electrical work, among many other tasks. “Almost everything in those schools are originals.”
The district also needs to update and expand its bus garage. The current garage located at 460 North Hickory Street in downtown Chaska has a capacity of 50 buses, however the district has more than twice the number in operation, according to the newsletter.
Half of the district’s buses are currently uncovered on the site — which is out of compliance with the city, Kahring said. If they were under cover, they would start better during the winters and there would be less wear-and-tear.
“We’re out of compliance and we’re not maintaining those assets,” said Kahring, noting that while the buses belong to Positive Connections, maintenance costs are covered by the district.
The referendum would include funding for wash bays, additional mechanical bays and more land for parking and space.
Officials are also considering building a new bus garage instead of updating the old one. However a site has not been determined, Kahring said.
3. Operating revenue and renewing security and technology levy
District leaders are also looking at funding for the security and technology levy, and to cover a $6 million gap in the operating levy, according to Kahring.
If voters choose to renew the security and technology levy, it would not increase taxes, Kahring said.
“The levy provides funding to improve school security, maintain technology infrastructure and put learning tools in the hands of students,” according to the district’s newsletter. The six-year levy is due to expire.
Operating revenue for the district is short $6 million, due to state funding not keeping up with inflation, Kahring said.
The amount that may be on the district’s referendum this fall will be contingent on whether the Minnesota Legislature passes increased funding. Officials are also considering how much taxpayers are willing to pay, Kahring said.